The million dollar question of course is, small exposures or delay any exposure as long as possible?
My instinct like I'm guessing most of yours is to avoid gluten until the kids wind up at a birthday party or something. This review paper seems to suggest otherwise...
A few excerpts:
This specific study examined the association between cereal-grain exposure (wheat, barley, rye, oats) in the infant diet and development of wheat allergy in 1,612 children from birth until the mean age of 4.7 years. One percent of these children developed wheat allergy. Surprisingly, those who were first exposed to cereals after 6 months of age had an increased risk of wheat allergy compared with children first exposed to cereals before 6 months of age
a large, population-based, prospective birth cohort study conducted in Germany, showing that delaying solid food introduction beyond the 6th month did not offer protection toward atopic dermatitis or atopic sensitization.
the DAISY study, conducted in a cohort of children at risk for IDDM followed prospectively from birth for a mean of 4.7 years. This study documented that exposure to cereals (rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye) that occurred early (<3 months) as well as late (>7 months) resulted in a significantly higher risk of appearance of islet cell autoimmunity compared to introduction between 4 and 6 months.
Interestingly, this study also showed that if cereals were introduced while the child was still breastfed, the risk of islet cell autoimmunity was reduced, independently of the age at introduction of cereals.
To test this hypothesis, several observational epidemiological studies have been conducted and reviewed in a recent meta-analysis. All of them, with only one exception found in a small study, showed that introducing gluten during breastfeeding reduces the risk of development of celiac disease.
Does this info change your mind at all?
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I'm still choosing to limit my son's exposure to gluten grains since I am intolerant and keep my house as clean as possible. I've let him have soaked and soured buckwheat and oatmeal in very small quantaties as a taste, but I just don't have the patience to properly deal with wheat and other gluten grains. It's waaaay to much prep and I don't want to give him improperly prepared and/or processes forms.
He'll live. Hopefully the way I'm feedin him will prevent the leaky gut that causes celiac in the first place.
I don't eat gluten at all (intolerant, but not celiac) and personally, I would not introduce gluten on purpose, nor would I stress if my child were exposed to it past 6 months of age (unless they were clearly celiac.)
Of course, I would avoid gluten totally while pregnant and breastfeeding and breastfeed for a year or more, ideally.
Gluten is too prevalent in our culture to easily avoid, so my approach would be to avoid exposure when possible, but not to stress when impossible (kind of like second-hand smoke.)
I remember hearing a Robb Wolf podcast where he got very frustrated with parents who talk about exposing their kids to small amounts of gluten and grains to help them "build up a tolerance" to it. He's pretty adamant that that stuff is just plain bad and there's absolutely no positive to giving it to kids.
Wish I could point to the podcast # for you, but I'm not sure which it was -- it was pretty recent, though.
I have had a sensitivity since I was a child. But tests came back fine despite symptoms. Instead I was trained to tolerate gluten. I never got diarrhea from it, just aches and brain fog... but I was sick and malnourished. By my 20's I was so sick I thought I would not make it to 40. Then I found out about my problem when I was 29 (!) and now in my 30s I am healthier than ever and rid myself of all my major diseases and am healthier than in my 20's. That is the only evidence I need to keep my son away from gluten.
I'm just guessing here, but I think this might have some overlap with the reaction some of us get when we are gluten free for a long time, and then add gluten back in. My body freaks out, I flush, I get nauseated, I bloat, etc. None of these happened (at least not to this degree) when I used to consume gluten at every meal.
The more I get it out of my system, the more reactive I am. The more I eat it, the more my body seems to adjust, or grow numb to it. So I am guessing that the babies that show tolerance simply have bodies that have adjusted, or "grown numb". And the ones that have not been exposed early probably have very conscientious parents who try to keep it away on a regular basis, and thus the child's body reacts strongly when exposed.
I'm still with Robb Wolf here. Just because our bodies can cope with it doesn't mean it's good for us.
A) i'm not a parent
B) I'm not exactly paleo but...
my thought is exposing them earlier does give them some tolerance. Let's face it, you can't hold their hand forever and wheat is in EVERYTHING.
I'd rather my kid not mess his jeans 20 minutes later when he's five rather than giving him light exposure at a year